Nipawin Bible College in east-central Saskatchewan expects to cut its current $17,000 yearly electrical bill down to zero, thanks to 399 new solar panels.

Wes Fehr, the school's outgoing president, said that after 23 years with the college, it is great to have achieved this project just in time for retirement. He said the college is the first in Canada to provide solar energy for all of the energy needs on its campus facilities.

"We are not aware of anything of this scale," Fehr said. "It's a bit surprising to people."

The campus' large 100-kilowatt solar array went online in December 2014.

According to Fehr, the hundreds of solar panels span 7,150 square feet, which ties the energy structure for the largest solar array in Saskatchewan. Fehr noted it is also one of the largest solar arrays in Western Canada.

'We are not aware of anything of this scale... it's a bit surprising to people.' - Wes Fehr, outgoing president of Nipawin Bible College

"It's a big structure," he said. "Very visible from the highway."

​Fehr said help from Ryan Jansen, an alumnus and board member of the college with Good Steward Solutions, made the project's development possible.

Jansen founded the green energy company with a partner in 2008 and it specializes in solar energy.

The solar installation in Nipawin, Sask. connects to the electrical service in each major campus facility. It is expected to produce approximately 150,000 kWh per year.

Fehr said the unit cost the school $170,000 to build. However, with the college's annual average electric utility cost at $17,000, he said the project will pay for itself in 10 years, which is good news for the small college.

"Education is costly and anywhere where you can save that kind of money annually, [then] it can go to other important needs," he said. 

Nipawin Bible College held a grand opening for the solar project on Saturday. On average, about 55 students attend the school each year.